deconstructing sterling

Deconstructing John Sterling, One Call at a Time

We believe that there is such thing as the perfect John Sterling radio call. It would contain just the right combination of absurdity, homerism, and sheer volume. It would be familiar but obnoxious, a little cheesy, yet somehow totally appropriate for the team he’s covering. With the Yankees officially now in the playoffs, we’re stating our intention to weigh in on Sterling’s most notable moments — be they significant home runs, game-winning steals of home, or series-clinching Mariano Rivera strikeouts — and see how close to glass-shattering perfection he can get.

Crucial Sterling calls will be graded here out of a possible 35 points: ten each for enthusiasm, duration, and catchphrase over-the-topness, with five points that we’ll dole out at our discretion for things like “A-Bomb for Matsui” (gaffes are part of Sterling’s, um, charm). First up: the last out of last night’s win against the Angels on the night they clinched a playoff berth.

Enthusiasm. The clip above cuts off the actual final out, but Sterling’s call starts out as weakly as Erick Aybar’s ground ball to second. Like a 747 about to take flight, he ramps up the enthusiasm on the throw itself, getting up to full speed for the big moment. (The phrase “throws to first” should really never be said with that much gusto in mid-September.) The fact that the Yankees had officially already clinched a postseason spot when the Rangers lost earlier in the night likely restrained Sterling a bit here. So did the fact that, because it was a road game, he wasn’t being shown on the scoreboard. He also loses points for coming back down to a reasonable speaking voice so soon afterward. 5/10.

Duration. According to the indispensable John Sterling blog It Is High, It Is Far, It Is … Caught, the warble during Sterling’s “Theeeeeeee Yankees Win” last night was 6.46 seconds long, which once upon a time would have been impressive, but is just par for the course these days. (He clocked in at over eight seconds on A-Rod’s walk-off against Boston earlier this year, setting the bar extremely high for himself as we approach the postseason.) There was a bit of a postscript on this call, but we’re choosing not to count the full six seconds of dead air that preceded it. 4/10.

Catchphrases. We’ll assign a stand-alone “Ballgame over … ” call a score of five, which can be added to or lowered if it’s accompanied by a particularly absurd or particularly weak home-run catchphrase. This can also be adjusted if it’s lengthened in any way by the name of a series (“Ballgame over! American League Championship Series over!!) or by something we haven’t even thought of yet. This call, sadly, had none of that. 5/10.

Bonus Points. Sterling doesn’t even acknowledge the postseason berth in his call, but again, they technically had already clinched it earlier in the night. Instead, he admits he wasn’t sure whether he’d ever get to do his “Yankees Win” shtick at Angel Stadium. It’s pure Sterling: The concern wasn’t whether the Yankees would ever win again in Anaheim; it’s whether John would ever get to break out another crazy game-ending call to mark the occasion. For good measure, he adds a chuckle at the end, for reasons we’ve yet to determine. 1 point for the postscript, and 1 for the laugh.

Total: 16/35. Not great. You’ve got two weeks to get playoff-ready, John. Don’t let us down!

Deconstructing John Sterling, One Call at a Time